On more than one occasion, I've started editing a post, only to be told, on save, that someone else has beaten me to it.

Would it be possible to add a feature where editing a post starts a mutex-style lock on that post, to my user, until I've finished editing it, and saved, at which point the lock is released?

3 Answers 3


It's been discussed before, but I'll shovel this over to mSO if you really want.

Basically they didn't want locks so that if people got in an 'edit war' (even mistakenly) that one user couldn't prevent a valid edit by another user.

Someone mentioned a Rep based arbitration when there a lock, but Rep isn't always a meaningful indicator of who should be allowed to override such an edit lock.

If you can think of a system that solves this problem, I'm sure they'd be interested in hearing it.


I've had this thought myself and the problem I keep coming back to is the asynchronous nature of the web: How do you determine when to release the lock for an edit that hasn't been "committed" yet?

If I take out the lock to start editing and then get sucked into a meeting (which happens all too frequently) is the lock held until I come back and click "cancel edit"? -- Now nobody can edit the post to fix whatever caused me to want to edit it in the first place?

If we expire the edit lock after say 5 minutes and it takes me 6 to finish my changes (also not outside the realm of possibility if we're talking substantial edits) do we invalidate the edit, or just devolve into the current no-lock scenario? If the latter, what if someone takes out a lock as soon as my old one expires?


The biggest problem I see is that if someone starts editing a post but doesn't save it how long should the system wait until it's freed up again? If the time is reasonable, say a few minutes, and it's a lengthy edit, as happens sometimes while trying to salvage a question, the system may free the lock before the edit is completed.

  • I think if the page has focus, and a sensible timer hasn't elapsed, maintain the lock. Commented May 8, 2012 at 7:00
  • Alternatively, an interesting idea would be something like Google Wave, where x users can all edit simultaneously Commented May 8, 2012 at 7:01
  • @Tom, in regard to your first comment, what about a situation where someone is editing a post and pops over to another browser window/tab to refer to something. The loss of focus may mean the lock is released prematurely, which puts us right back where we are now. Commented May 8, 2012 at 7:40
  • Hm. This is hard.. Let's go shopping. Commented May 8, 2012 at 7:41
  • I think a sort of live-editing (google docs/drive style) might solve your problem... Commented May 8, 2012 at 22:36
  • @Bart, not my problem. ;) In reality I think there are so many ifs and buts that it's highly unlikely that an editing lock will ever be implemented. Commented May 8, 2012 at 23:43

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